Knowing your limits


The first entrepreneurs to go into a spiral are comfortable
with risk but their financial needs don’t match up with their
business reality.

Annie Boutet | Journaliste

When is it time to sound the alarm?

Julie Carignan is a partner at SPB Organizational Psychology, where she coaches and trains managers and has a front-row seat for early warning signs of people who are becoming stressed—and distressed.

“The entrepreneurs most likely to experience stress and distress rely on high levels of energy and confidence, but they don’t think about limits so they don’t set them. They feel like their energy reserves are so deep they’ll be able to keep going for a long time, so they don’t give themselves time to recuperate and recharge.”

Another typical feature of the entrepreneurial profile at risk is being overinvested in the business without spending time focusing on a support network or work/life balance. The entrepreneurial spirit has engaged built in, but being overinvested happens when there isn’t a release or a strong network of friends and/or family maintained.

“Financial stress is a toxic ingredient in everyone’s life. The first entrepreneurs to go into a spiral are comfortable with risk but their financial needs don’t match up with their business reality. Say business drops by 30% and they have to sell their home; the smallest economic problem jeopardizes everything because their lifestyle doesn’t leave any room for error,” says Carignan.

There are common behavioural signs among entrepreneurs at risk. Some of the biggest ones are:

  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Inactivity
  • Poor diet
  • Use of caffeine and stimulants
  • Poor sleep
  • Indigestion

“Shutting yourself in your office and avoiding people all of a sudden when you’re making decisions is another symptom. Some entrepreneurs will do just the opposite, and can’t make a decision without consulting twenty advisors. Getting advice is a good reflex so long as you also trust yourself,” adds Carignan.

Another bad sign is being suspicious of everyone and everything, and the last straw might be an entrepreneur completely losing interest and putting up a wall to shut out what they’re passionate about. Entrepreneurs going from stressed to distressed are wearing armour and tuning out their emotions.

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